Friday, May 31, 2013

What Numbers Can't Define

Today is Peter's IEP meeting.  It's a non-fun meeting where teachers and therapists try to focus on all the positive gains your special needs child has accomplished while trying to trouble shoot the areas that are "problem areas" and I have to "sit in the truth" of all the ways Peter is in no way, shape, or form even close to other kids his age.

I do have to say that we are blessed to live in the town that we are in because the special education program has always been generous and supportive.  I know lots of people have had to fight long and hard to get their kids the services they need.  Honestly, we have always been given everything we have asked for.  Thank-you, God!  (and that's why we can never move out of our town!)

This year in particular is a 3 year re-evaluation meeting which means that Peter underwent a whole bunch of extra testing...that generated many, many pages of reports for me to read.  Well...skim.  Well..most of them. I'm trying!

It's a tad depressing.  Like the meeting, the reports force me to see my child and his struggles put into numbers on paper.

Is it a surprise?....not at all.

But it still hurts.

When I finished reading the psychological assessment(7 pages and yes, I did read the whole thing!), and the numbers staring at me on the page telling me that my almost 12 year old has cognitive and learning abilities equal to that of a 3 year old in two areas, a 5 yr 10mth old in another area, and a 6 year old in yet another made me take a deep, painful breath and think, "Ok, God, what the hell am I supposed to do with this?"

Since I tend to "numb out" for a while before all my emotions seep through, it gives me a short hiatus to pray and try to figure it all out...hopefully before the crash of emotions!

After I read the report I was sitting on the couch with the beginnings of a headache.  Luke was asleep but Kate had a longer nap today and was walking around playing and being cute.  She found Peter sitting on the floor with his IPad.  Kate loves him....she calls him "Pete".  Kate pokes at him and Pete makes her laugh.  They were playing like this tonight when Peter called out, "I take a picture?"  Which, in Peter speak means he wants me to take a picture...

I got up off the couch to see this....

This was the gift I was given tonight while I wrestled with my thoughts and feelings.

To remind me that my son is more than his academic and intellectual inabilities.......

Peter has a great capacity to love and be loved.

Kate loves him because he is "Pete".....and "Pete" obviously adores his baby sister, too!

When Jay was getting Peter ready for bed tonight, Peter wasn't listening very well.  Jay told him, "Peter you are frustrating me!"

And Peter said, "Why?"

Jay answered, "Because you aren't going to bed!"

I looked at was the first time Peter ever asked the question, "Why?"  He has never, ever said it before.

It's amazing how one simple word can mean so much!

So, I am wearing my Alex and Ani 'Hope' bracelet to the meeting to remind me that no matter what is said, God has a plan for Peter and a purpose that is more than a sum of his skills....or numbers on a report.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patience, Please!

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday.....

It's amazing how far away the long weekend already feels for me!  I feel like Tuesday morning was like the "launch" from the Wipeout's Final Round and I haven't stopped since!

Last night was Andrew's awards night.  He received several awards....way to go, Andrew!  The best part was that since we left all the other kids home with my parents, Jay and I actually got to sit in the second row(!) and...wait for attention to the entire awards ceremony!

This morning Sarah reminded me that her class was performing different songs from the musical, Cats, this afternoon.  (I had forgotten...and it was even written on the calendar!  I put it in my phone so I would get a reminder ring just in case I forgot again...sadly, it has happened before!)

So, after hosting book club with 2 of my friends and my s.i.l. this morning, I headed out to see Sarah with Kate and Luke in tow.

I should have left them home.....

The 'fruit snack' bribe lasted through the first 2 songs.  Midway through the third song, Kate let known her displeasure at sitting still.  When I got up to try and keep her quiet, Luke took it as his key to wander, too.  We were in the back of the auditorium so it wasn't too bad...other than the fact that I was only partially watching the 8th graders and mostly watching to make sure Luke didn't get into trouble.(Like trying to climb on the folded up lunch tables, or trying to open up the door to the playground, or writing on/erasing the chalkboard...and, yes, he tried all these things at least once...and the chalkboard several times!)

Then, the kids re-performed one of the dances because one of the girl's moms was late and missed her daughter..which I thought was really nice!  Then the kids wanted to do their final act again.  Which was nice for them....

...Not so much for the mom(yes, I mean me) getting frustrated, sweat dripping down my back from corralling the kids and stressing that they were going to be loud, and feeling aggravated that they wouldn't just sit still!(For crying out stinking loud!)

There's nothing that makes me feel like a failure more than poor behavior by my younger set in a public situation where almost everyone knows us!  There was another family with 2 little ones just about the same ages as Luke and Kate who didn't utter a sound...well, one of them slept through half of it in his carriage but still!  And, granted, both mom and dad were there so they had a man-to-man defense while I was forced to play a zone defense......

But still!

I hate looking like I "have my hands full" and I always worry that I seem so chaotic and that my kids are out of control...

And I really wanted to avoid the "I feel like a bad parent therefore, it makes me lose my patience even easier in a stressful situation."

And I really, really wanted to avoid becoming "Unglued" (which is the name of the book we are reading in book club!), and become the "If looks could kill, hissing talking through gritted teeth, wait til I get you home and you will never have desserts again....never play outside...I will give away all your toys....insert your own empty idea here....type of threats"  that make me look like an even worse mom because now I am behaving as badly as my kid(s)!

Arrrgghhh...sooooooo frustrating!

Obviously I have some work to do with patience for myself....and sitting still and listening for Luke.  (and Kate eventually, too...but at 17 months there is only so much that I can expect!)

On a positive note, all the 8th graders did great and looked cute!
Sarah and friend having a "cat fight":)

the "purrfect" pose:)

Ahhh....the joys of parenthood!

Linking in with Shell at Things I Can't Say because....well...I just said it!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just Keep Planning.....

Trying to get back into a groove after a long weekend is never easy!

I want to start this post with a belated "Thank-You" to all of the men and women that have served, and are currently serving our country!  Thank-you for the sacrifices that you and your families have made!

Our weekend was very productive with both projects and planning for future projects....a.k.a our 3 year kitchen expansion project.  Jay got a lot done...and, as always, it was sad to see the weekend come to an end!

Andrew had a great time at prom on Friday.  The weather here was pretty lousy on Friday, but thankfully, there was a 2 hour break in the rain to get pictures before they left for the prom.  Thank-you, God!

Tonight is senior awards night.  Then, we have a little breather until Peter's IEP meeting Friday morning and then this crazy busy weekend filled with lots of accomplishments!  Mike graduates on Saturday morning at 11, Andrew's Baccalaureate Mass is at 6:30 Saturday night, and Andrew's graduation ceremony is on Sunday at 2!

I am feeling quite overwhelmed at all I am juggling and trying to make sure that I make things special for them.

Oh, and the other kids still need attention, too!:)

It's just a little extra chaos.....

I am especially trying to give Mike his time to shine!  I feel bad that we can't spend the whole day Saturday focused on him and celebrating and spending time as a family.  First they share a a graduation day!  Oy!

So far my ideas to make sure Mike doesn't feel slighted are a late lunch following his graduation with the family members able to attend, followed by an extra special cake back at home that my sil, Jackie, found online.  It's an oreo cheescake cake...get ready to drool!

First you bake an oreo cheesecake and then you bake a homemade chocolate cake and then you put it all together with homemade frosting!  It's going to be a lot of work...but a labor of love to make Mike feel special!  I'm going to make it on Friday and hide it in my mother's fridge!

I'm also planning on getting some of his friends together for snacks and games and smores that night so that, while most of us are at the Mass for Andrew, he doesn't feel like we just ditched him!  I'm not sure whether I want to try and organize the friend get together part as a surprise or not.......but I have to decide by tomorrow to give them some notice!

For Andrew, Sunday I'm thinking we will have food(probably cookout or pizza) and cake after his graduation.  His cake will be from Jay's mom because Andrew loves her cake!  (He told her that he wants her to make his wedding cake someday!:)

I'm planning a big graduation bash for both of them later on in June with extended family!

(and I have to get going with sending out invitations for that, too!)

...and then there's all the emotions over having your two oldest children graduate and get ready to take the next step in their lives!  Yeah..."Ain't nobody got time for that!"

My mantra for the next 36 hours needs to be ala Dory..."Just keep planning, just keep planning, just keep planning, planning, planning...."

I hope you had a great weekend:)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Blast From the Past!

It was prom night for Andrew on Friday.  Can I just say that it is so ridiculous at how easy guys have it for prom readiness.  Pick out the tux, try on the tux, pick up the tux the night before the dance.  Shower and shave.


Though he could have used a haircut...(Andrew disagrees!)
Here is a pic of Andrew and Courtney:)

It's making me a little nostalgic for the days when I had time, and the reason, to spend a whole lot of time getting ready for something and then getting to go somewhere special and having a great time with my friends without any responsibilities at home.

In my former life, BK(before kids, not Burger King...I'm not a fan of fast food chains and that one in particular!)..

But I digress...

In my former life, BK, I used to get ready for a night out with a bath.  By myself.  With hot water and whatever my Bath and Body Works smell of the month was.  And I would soak and scrub

Then, I got to pick out clothes that I liked and fit well....true bliss.

Back then, I actually got to blow dry and style my hair!  That's a luxury these days.  Usually, after helping everyone else get ready, we are already running late and I forget to take care of my hair until we are in the car driving away!:(  Or I throw it up in a ponytail.  If I'm lucky, I get to have a "fancy" hair day if I can find a hair clip to use.(Usually stolen borrowed from Sarah....daughters can be very useful!)

I'm out of luck if I'm in need of a color, though, because ponytails or an "up-do" accentuate my gray!

I didn't have that problem BK either!

I posted a couple of pictures of Andrew and Courtney Friday night on Facebook.  My high school friend, Ann-Marie, commented  that it seemed like just yesterday it was us at our prom.  That inspired me to go digging for some old photos of our special night 21 years ago.  Big hair and puffy sleeves were the "in thing" in the early 90's!:)

Are you ready.......

A blast from the past!:)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bring on the Long Weekend!

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes Friday....

This has been such a busy and exciting week!  It's the first of many to come!

1.  History Fair
Sarah competed in her middle school's History Fair for the last time last Friday.  She did her report on D-Day.  She spent a lot of time researching and learning her topic and she knew it inside and out.  Sarah also borrowed my grandfather's WWII medals and some of his pictures from his time in the Navy.  My grandfather was on one of the supply ships in the D-Day attack at Normandy Beach.  It's still emotional for him to talk about almost 70 years later, but he was happy to share his medals and pictures with Sarah.  He was also very proud when she won the Grand Prize!(and so were we:)
Sarah with her project

Sarah with my dad and Luke and her trophy:)

2, 3, and 4.  Birthday, Birthday, Birthday!
We had a family party for Sarah on Saturday.  Sunday was Sarah's actual 14th birthday and my grandmother's 94th birthday celebration!  My extended family was at my parent's house to celebrate!
Sarah with her cute flip flop cake courtesy of my mother-in-law:)

My grandmother with all the great-grandkids:)..and no, they aren't all mine!
Just most of them;)

Look how cute she cute they are:)
And I love the way my grandmother's feet dangle and don't touch the ground!:)
 Monday was my grandmother's real birthday and the anniversary of our daughter, Therese's birthday, too.

5. Award Nights
Both Andrew and Jon received different awards on the same night, so Jay and I had to split up!  
Andrew received a scholarship after a nice dinner from The Polish Woman's Club.
Andrew with Jay's mom(who is a member)

 Jon received the Pope Pius X Award at a special ceremony at the Cathedral.

Mike received an academic award on Thursday night at an awards ceremony at BCC.  Sorry no picture!  My sister and mil pinch hit for us because Sarah's class put on an Appreciation Dinner for the parents.
(see #6)
I wish I could bilocate!
(Jon wouldn't have had any pictures if it hadn't been for Andrew's girlfriend, Courtney, who was at the Pope Pius X award and reminded Jay at the appropriate photo ops!(Thx, Courtney:)

Great job boys!  

6.  Appreciation Dinner

The 8th graders as well as some of their teachers put together a delicious Turkey dinner as well as salad, soup, and dessert!  It was great! (the servers did a great job, too!)

7.  Finished!
Mike and Andrew have both finished finals and are now just waiting for graduation next weekend!  Honestly, I can't believe it!
Tonight is Andrew's prom!

Change is coming...whether I'm ready or not!

Hope your long weekend is fabulous!  
I cannot wait to have Jay home with us for 3 whole days!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Middle

Last night was the season finale of The Middle.  We don't watch too many tv shows as a family.  Actually, only 4...The Middle, Shark Tank, Biggest Loser and Masterchef.  (Jay and Sarah watch Person of Interest together, too....but that isn't a "whole family" show!)

The Middle is a favorite because it makes us laugh.  The family on the show, the Heck family, are a middle class family that struggle all the time to have more money than month.  They are kind of like a "real family" but all of their personalities are exaggerated just enough to make it completely hilarious!  

Last night's finale focused, in part, on the oldest son, Axl,  graduating from high school.  Much of the episode revolved around bickering between Axl and his "mom", Frankie Heck.   At one point the dad, Mike, tells the mom something to the effect that they need the bickering so that it makes it easier to handle the separation that is coming up.

"Maybe mama birds don't push their babies from the nest because they're ready; maybe it's because they are sick of them!" Mike Heck

Well, I have to tell you that Jay and I laughed out loud and enjoyed a good "look" with each other over that!  

And even though I don't think I have gone, or will go as far, as Frankie did butting heads with Axl...the Mama Pajama dance for fellow Middle fans!...

The gist of what they are getting at is so true!

The last few months with Mike have been an emotional roller coaster!  Since finally making his decision to go to Assumption, things have gotten much easier most days.  He's likable least most of the time!

Change is hard.  Letting go is even harder.

It was just really nice to laugh about it last night!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I was reading the latest edition of Catholic Digest yesterday.  The article, "We're in this together" by Colleen Duggan really got my attention.  She wrote about 5 struggles Catholic parents face in raising Catholic children.  I couldn't find a link to the article online, but I did find a similar article Colleen wrote in her blog that was adapted for the article.  Click here to read Colleen's blog post.

What struck me the most in the article was the reminder that it's easy to make judgements when you don't know someone's heart.  I have been very guilty of this in the past.....and sometimes in the present.  It's easy to look at a situation and start to pick apart the actions/thoughts of a family member, friend, or stranger.  I compare the decisions of others against what I think I would have decided if I was in the same circumstance.

Even more so, I was very guilty in the past of trying to convince those around me to make the choices I was making because I was insecure and wanted everyone to do what I was doing to prove that I had made the right choice.

That got ugly at times!

Trying to figure out the best choice for me in any given situation can be stressful!  I always worry that I'm making the "wrong" choice.  In reality, most of my decisions just have choices that are better than others and none of them are wrong. (Jay reminds me of this all.the.time!)

BTW....I'm not talking about Absolute Truths!

I'm talking about the angst over choosing the "right" car, or the "right" way to discipline, or the "right" limits to place on my teenagers, or the "right" way to deal with the toddler, or the "right" amount of time it's ok for me to be gone from the kids...etc.  Most decisions have more than one "right" choice...the focus needs to be on figuring out the best choice at the time.

I have worked on being a more positive person over the past several years...thanks to the positive friends in my life that made me reconsider my...umm...more pessimistic tendencies!  It is such hard work to be positive!  Being negative, (an inherited trait), comes so easily that the neurons in my brain trip over themselves to try and switch to a more positive train of thought before I go down a very slippery negative slope!

Well, maybe not the neurons...idk what trips over themselves, really.  It's been far too many years since I've taken a biology class!  I apologize if I've created a science gaffe!

The following quote that I read today from the blog Positively Alene reminded me about Colleen Duggan's article.  (Well, it reminded me I had read something that I really liked and wanted to remember and then I couldn't remember where I had read it and I spent 10 minutes searching through my in-box and my trash "box" trying to find it until I finally remembered I had read it in Catholic Digest!  (Just yesterday, too!  My poor sleep deprived brain!)'s the quote.......

"Your motives can only be understood by those close enough to know your heart desires. To all others you speak a foreign language."

To which I say, "amen"!  And...I guess that's where the Holy Spirit comes in to help us speak and understand something we couldn't with just our own perspective!  (I just need to remember to ask for understanding and then quiet myself enough to hear Him!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Joy and Pain

Sometimes life is filled with joy and sorrow that fit so closely together that it's hard to see where one emotion ends and the others begin.

May 19th and May 20th are like that for me....

The first marks the happy celebration of Sarah's birthday, and the second is the anniversary of Therese's birthday, which is a much more somber day for me.

Today, Therese would have been 15 years old.  Had she been healthy and "normal", she would have been finishing her freshman year of high school...

Sometimes I wonder what she would have been like....what her personality would be...who she would have looked like...

If she had been born healthy and "normal".

Last year, I was much more emotional around this time.  This year, it hasn't been as bad.  I still have the dull ache and the memories that pop up and feel so real and "fresh" that it seems all the events happened yesterday instead of 15 years ago....but the sting isn't so sharp.

For several years after her death, we would visit Therese's grave and I would buy roses for each of us to leave there.  It was an emotional and painful visit; not only for Jay and I, but also for the boys.  In fact, it was too painful.  I felt like it was taking their emotions and shattering them.  I was surprised that even several years after her death a visit to the cemetery could affect them so much.

The last year that we went, Mike didn't even want to get out of the car and I felt like forcing out all the emotion just wasn't healthy and wasn't the best way for us to honor their sister's memory.

But I want to honor her memory.  She may have only been with us a short 16 days, (though she grew within me for 35.5 weeks), but she was still a part of our family.  The briefness of her physical time in our lives still left a hole in our hearts that only she can fill.

Sometimes, I get the distinct sense deep in my heart that someone is missing.  I take a head count of the kids and all 8 are there....yet, there is always one missing.

For me, losing a child has been the greatest cross I have had to carry.  Even greater than raising a child with special needs.  In fact, when Peter was officially diagnosed with Autism (which in my limited knowledge at the time I understood to be a child disconnecting with any relationship to the outside world), the rallying cry of my heart was, "I will not lose another child!  I will fight and do everything I can!"  I could not "save" Therese from her genetic disorder and heart defects....but I could try to "save" Peter.  Autism was something I could fight....and Jay and I jumped in with everything we had.  And we still fight for him, just with better balance and more peace that God is in control and has plans for Peter, too.

With great crosses come great blessings.  Through Therese's short life God's presence manifested itself in so many tangible ways

Whether it was a well timed phone call from a friend, or the fact that every single one of her nurses was named Mary or Marie or Anne-Marie, or all the people that were praying for us, or the priests that were available for us to console us and answer all our questions about end of life issues...

There were just so many ways that we were consoled during that difficult time.  Our hearts were still broken...but we were not alone.

Difficult moments bring new perspectives.  Therese died on a Friday and her funeral Mass and burial was on the Saturday.  That Sunday, my parents went to a different Mass so that we didn't have to take the boys to church with us.  Emotionally fragile was a kind description of where we were at.

I remember we sat towards the back of the church that day.  One of Michael's classmate's moms was at the entrance of the church when we walked in and started crying when she saw us, saying how sorry she was for our loss.  The flowers that I had chosen were still up on the alter....pinks and purples(little girl colors) and full of life.

I cried through the entire Mass.  The poor man that shared our pew must have been so confused and unnerved!

I remember praying from the depth of my soul when the priest held up the Eucharist during the Consecration, "Thank-you, Lord, for dying for us so that my little girl would have a place to go."  It was such consolation to a mama's broken heart to not have to worry about where her baby was...or if she was ok...or if she was taken care of.

Such consolation that words cannot explain.

Even though 15 years have passed, and the pain has dulled, and I've grown accustomed to someone "missing" from our lives and the hole in my heart, I will never forget....

.....not the pain
.....not the sorrow
.....not the grief
.....not the graces
.....not the blessings
.....not the precious 3 lb 11oz baby girl that will always be a part of our family

Happy 15th Birthday, Therese Elizabeth.

We will always remember.......

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Today is a special day for a special person.....Sarah's 14th Birthday!

It is hard to believe that our precious baby girl has turned into this beautiful young woman!  Again...I am left saying, "Where did the time go?"

Sarah came into our lives 364 days after the birth of her older sister, Therese.  All of our children are gifts, but Sarah's arrival brought healing and joy into our lives in a special way.  Having a healthy little girl filled our  arms that were left empty by Therese's death.....and helped to heal our broken hearts.

Sarah was a sweet baby.  She was quiet and easy going and loving.

She still is!

Well, maybe not so much the quiet part all the time:)

Sarah is a smart, hardworking and passionate person.  She has a strong faith and loves to spend time getting Jay to talk about lives of the saints or stories about his grandfather.  Sarah especially likes poking Jay's sensitive side and getting him to 'cry in his eyes' by talking about growing up and getting married!

Sarah is passionate about pro-life issues and, after attending the March for Life in Washington in January of this year, she was inspired to start a pro-life group in her school.  The kick-off for the group happened a couple of weeks ago and it will be her legacy to the school that she spent the last 9 years attending!

Parenting Sarah is an easy least so far!  I know that high school will bring a whole new set of adventures for her...and for us!

I wish that I could stop the clock and turn back time a little to keep her a little girl...but I know that's wishful thinking!

Jay and I are trying to enjoy this young woman that is blossoming before our eyes....without being too sad that our baby girl is growing up!

Happy 14th birthday to a sweet, special, and very loved daughter (and sister!)!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Day of Firsts and Lasts

Today was a day that has been filled with 'firsts' and 'lasts'.

Today is Andrew's last full day of "regular" high school.  Next week is filled with finals, half days, graduation practices, and, last but not least, prom!  He is happy to be coming to an end of high school...I find it all a little bittersweet!

Today was Luke's first day visiting the preschool class that he will attend next year!  He and I did a little circle time, heard a story about the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and made a Holy Spirit hat as a craft.  Luke was excited and quite antsy...he really wanted to just check out all the cool toys in the room!  But he did a good job listening and his teacher is really, really patient and great with energetic little boys!  (Good thing for us!)

Today Mike is taking his last final that will finish off his 2 years at community college.  He has done such a great job!  By next week we will know his final GPA...and if he was able to maintain his stellar 3.86 GPA that he has carried for the last year and a half!  Go Mike!:)

Today was Sarah's last history fair at St. Francis.  It was also a first....

Sarah won the Grand Prize for the highest score overall out of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades!  Her project was on D-Day and she had gotten pictures of my grandfather who was in the Navy and part of the D-Day attack.  He also let her borrow his metals and his Navy papers and the descriptions of the ship he was on.  Living history!  We are so proud of her!

Sarah with my Dad and Luke

On a lighter note...Kate picked her first flower today.  Well, it was a dandelion but I'm still counting it!

So sweet! 
 And a first for Luke...trying to eat a flower!  Yuck!  Really!
Thankfully he didn't enjoy it!

 Such a goober!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wrapping Up Thursday!

Today was a much better day!

Sleep was a little better.  The best part was that Kate went to bed at 7:50 and slept about 4 hours before the "first fuss" and when my night shift began.

But that was four whole hours by myself!  Bliss:)

After a busy day that included laundry, a physical for Peter, a trip to Walmart, a stop at Periwinkles, (a great little store in the town next to us that I love, love, love for their unique and fun gifts!), for a birthday present for Sarah, a Confirmation present for our Goddaughter, Brianna, and a graduation present for Andrew's girlfriend, playing outside with the little ones, more laundry, dinner, and doing paychecks for my parents visit....I am ready to sit on the couch and 'chill-ax'!

And did I mention that Mike has 4 friends over to watch the last episode of The Office....and plans to do s'mores with them outside afterwards?

Never a dull moment around our house!

But what's a few more people:)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sleeplessness Strikes Again!

Sleeplessness strikes again at the Hamel household!  The last three nights have been rough with Kate and Luke.  At 4am this morning...(is that redundant putting in am and morning?  I feel like I'm always breaking grammar rules!)...Kate was wide awake and ended up waking up Luke, who started sniffling in the middle of the night with the start of another cold.  I was feeling pretty exhausted because both of them had already fussed 2 or 3 times(each!) and now I was praying that Kate would just fall back asleep despite the fact that Luke was whining asking for a tissue every 5 minutes.

Kate finally drifted off to sleep around 4:30 but Luke was still awake.  I got the "snuggle with me, Mommy" request, so as I cuddled with him I tried to remind my exhausted self that someday I will miss this.  (And I tried to ignore the fact that since Luke was breathing on me that I will probably have my own cold in 24 hours or less!)

This morning was not pretty.  I am tired and cranky and have bags under my bags!

Jay came in at 6:45 to ask me if I wanted to exercise.  After the night I had, there was no way I was dragging myself out of bed for anything but the ibuprofin I couldn't wait to take since I wasn't even completely awake and I already had a headache.

I have read several articles that talk about how hard it is to lose weight if you don't get enough sleep...

Yeah, I'm pretty much screwed!

I have that exhausted and discouraged seeingeverythingthroughdirtywindows kind of perspective today.  I also feel like biting everyone's head off every few minutes!  (And of course Luke wants to make every loud and annoying sound he possibly can!)

Today's Quiet Moment from Catholic Digest was waiting for me in my inbox this morning.....

The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly to do it because it is his will.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Can I just tell you that I would much rather just have a pity party today, spend the day snapping at everyone and justify my crankiness because of sleep deprivation that seems like it will never.go.away!

I can't really justify that a pity party is the will of God...or that caring for my family with crankiness would be the manner He wills it...

So, I'm trying really hard to take a deep breath.  

When Mike, who only has one more online final to take to finish his semester and his Associates Degree, asked me what I wanted to do answer was "Take a nap."  Since it's a beautiful day here, I will drag myself head to the zoo with my oldest and my two youngest and try to enjoy living in the moment despite being really, really tired.

I will try to look forward to at least a short nap while Kate sleeps today and I bribe Luke with the IPad for a few quiet moments!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

It was sad to see another weekend go by so quickly and slip back into the Monday routine.

I was very pampered this Mother's Day.  Mother's Day actually started on Saturday night for me.  Since Mother's Day often ends up being more of a "Grandmother's Day" in a lot of ways, Jay wanted to do something special just for me.

Sooooo....he cooked this...

 It was a delicious meal of homemade spaghetti sauce and homemade meatballs and garlic bread.  Jay used Giada's recipes and it came out really great!  My sister-in-law, Julie, and her boyfriend, Tom, came for dinner, too!  The meal ended with Ghiradelli brownie sundaes...and Jay made the brownies, too, so they were good!  I am a terrible brownie maker!  

Jay and the kids and Julie all did the clean up.:)

Then, we all played games!  It was a fun night!

Mother's Day started with some special surprises from Ellie and hugs(with promises for a spruced up flower bed) from the rest of the kids.  Ellie made lots of posters to decorate the house, a special hat for me and a construction paper sculpture.

She was so thoughtful!  More on Ellie in a minute.....

After Mass, we came home and cooked brunch for my parents and my grandmother and my grandfather.  My sister and I usually cook together, but she had been up all night with a stomach bug.:(

We had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, ham and cheese quiche, bacon, and watermelon.  I made special cookies with strawberry filling for dessert.  (Strawberries are my mom's favorite...can you tell?)

Special thanks to Jay and Sarah for helping with the cooking...and the clean up!

 Ellen entertained us all with a special puppet show that she made up!  She is so sweet:)

After a nice relaxed visit, Jay and I just relaxed with the kids while Kate took a nap.  

Then, we headed to my in-law's house to visit with Jay's parents and his sister, Jackie and her family.  Luke and Kate had fun playing with their cousins while we all enjoyed some special desserts.  Julie, even though she couldn't be there, had made a trifle.  Jackie made some yummy smores desserts.  I had made my mother-in-law's chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes(although I can't make it nearly as good as she can!) and a Reese's peanut butter cheesecake(because it's one of my mother-in-law's favorites:).  Everything was delicious!
Jay with his mom before we left:)

We got home close to dinner time.(With a beautiful hanging geranium plant and a pretty Alex & Ani bracelet that Jay's mom gave me:)  Since Jay was all cooked out, (lol),  we got pizza.  (You certainly don't have to twist my arm for pizza!)  After dinner and another quick clean up(thanks again, honey) it was bath time for the littles, and laundry folding time for me as the day came to a end. (Sadly...sigh.  It's nice to be pampered!)

I hope you had a great Mother's Day, too!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all my blog friends!  I hope that today was a wonderful day for all of you!  I pray that those desiring to be moms receive a special peace and hope for God's plan in their lives.  I pray that moms and grandmas were filled with love whether they are near us, far away, or held in our hearts and memories!

A special prayer for all expectant moms and the miracle that they are blessed to carry!

I had a great day...lots of special moments to be shared tomorrow!

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Linking up with Five Minute Friday today because that's all the computer time I've got today!

Word of the day.......

Comfort seems like such an appropriate word for the Friday before Mother's Day.  As a mom, comfort is a big part of my "job".  From the moment they are born, I have started comforting each of my children.  

First with those overwhelming moments when they are laid on me for the first time....screeching and protesting their eviction from their first home.

All the hours of comforting babies through hungry, tired, overwhelmed moments in the first several months of their life with us and then as they grow into toddlers, preschoolers,  pre-teens, teenagers, and now, young adults, too!

I even have the memories of comforting my first daughter back into the arms of our Lord.

I also have all the memories of my children giving comfort to me.  All those baby snuggles and toddler hugs!  The joy of being wanted and needed and loved by preschoolers....and the moments that my preteens and teenagers show me that I am still wanted and needed and loved by them!  

"give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”Luke 6;38

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Borrowed Moments

The great number of changes on our horizon has started to push me 'over the edge'.  I find myself extremely emotional all.the.time!  Little things make me kids videos, commercials, but mostly my own thoughts and memories.

It's not really a surprise.  With a junior college graduation, a high school graduation, and an 8th grade graduation all happening in the next few weeks, there's a lot of emotions to process.  Add into the mix another son who will be a senior in the fall and my youngest son starting pre-school and I might as well get used to this weepy, emotional person that will be around for a while!

It's funny how different children trigger different emotions.  With our oldest, it's been an emotionally draining couple of months trying to get all the information together so he could make a decision about which school he would transfer to in the fall.  He hasn't handled the waiting/figuring out the direction of his life stuff well.  His emotions have taken a toll on both Jay and on me.  Mike has been much better since the college decision has been made...which has made him much easier to live with!  While I'm sure there will be tears when we bring him to college in the Fall, we are also ready for him to move onto the next step in his life and (hopefully!) do some maturing when he's on his own!

Our second oldest is going to live at home and commute to our local university.  It is a great choice for him because of the merit scholarship he received!  Andrew and I are pretty close.  He has always been independent kind of kid.  Even as a toddler he wasn't much of a snuggler.  He likes his space, and his quiet...which is a tough thing to find in our house!

It's really hitting me with our 3rd son, Jon, starting his senior year in the Fall.  The boys are obviously close in age...all born in February.  Mike and Andrew are 24 months apart to the day, and Jon is 12 months, 3 weeks and 3 days younger than Andrew.  They were all so close in age growing up that they were termed "the boys" collectively!

Since Jon was the youngest of 'the boys' and also the most cuddly and the most attached to me when he was little...and the first baby I nursed successfully!....his growing up is hitting me hardest of all.  I'm not ready for him to leave the nest.  When he talks about colleges or career choices I am supportive but inside my heart is aching because I'm not ready for the separation, yet.

What happened to all of these little boys that needed me?  There were endless days of beanie babies and farm animals and legos....

Yet, those endless days turned into years and now those little boys have transformed into men over 6 feet tall that need to shave!

And they are going to leave me....

And I need to be happy for them because this is the way it's supposed to be.  The line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding Comes to mind lately, "We gave you life so you could live it."

Children are gifts.  Some days, between the laundry and the cooking and the dishes and the squabbles and the chaos, it's easy for me to forget that.  Those seemingly endless days of childhood fun did fly by and now I wish that I had soaked in more of those moments.

Because I now know how fast it goes, I appreciate my time with Luke and Kate even more.  Every once in a while(like once a week:), the sleepless nights and the endless laundry and dishes and the neediness of toddlers and a baby overwhelm me.  The majority of the time, though, I am able to put aside my own to-do list for the sweet requests of, "Play with me, Mommy." and "Let's snuggle, Mommy." because I know that I will blink and this time will be gone.

I find myself crying for the missed opportunities to show love and  patience and understanding.  I wish that I had spent more time "just being" with the older boys and not just trying to orchestrate the ways to get through the busy days.  I wish that we hadn't gone through so much emotionally with losing a child and having another child diagnosed with Autism....although mostly I wish that I had reached out for the emotional help I needed to deal with my grief and depression that plagued me for several years.  There was too much time wasted just trying to "survive" and not really living.

Those are the moments I continue to give to God and ask Him to make up the difference of what my children received and what they really needed.

Change is hard!  Letting go is hard!

Even though my children will always be my children no matter how tall or old they get, I am living on borrowed moments for the time they are truly "mine".

Today I will be linking up with Shell for Things You Can't Say...because that's the kind of feelings I'm having!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Reluctant Potty Trainer

Potty training is still a "no-go" with Luke!  I keep talking about it, and he uses the potty before bath time and sometimes one other time each day, but still no real success story!

He hit the 3 1/2 milestone in February but still has no real interest.  Last week I was really talking it up to get him to wear underpants this a cheerleader sort of way!  Several nights in the past week he has woken up and not wanted to lay on the bed saying he was going to pee on it!  Despite my reminders that he had a diaper on and if he had an accident then I would just wash the sheets, we spent about an hour awake until he was able to drift off to sleep again.  Poor little guy...

All weekend I kept talking about wearing underpants.  I bought 2 containers of mini M&M's, promising him a few for each successful potty use.  I reminded him of Grandma and Pa's promise to bring him to the toy store to pick out a new truck once he wore underpants all day and used the potty.

This morning, despite having the choice of construction trucks or Mater underpants and showing him the candy, he wanted no part.  Luke went in the room and grabbed a diaper.  No amount of cajoling or encouraging moved him to change his mind.


So far a sticker book and the candy and the promise of a new toy have not worked!  You would think that since I have 6 other children that were successfully potty trained that this process wouldn't be so difficult!
Not so!

Looks like I will be spending some time on the internet looking for some new ideas!

Anyone have any suggestions and personal experience with reluctant potty trainers?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wrapping Up Another Week!

I cannot believe that it is May!  It is the start of a very busy couple of months for us!  But I'm trying to live in the join with me as I share

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 211)

1.  Prom
Andrew attended his girlfriend, Courtney's, senior prom last Friday.  Jon also attended the prom with Courtney's best friends:)

Aren't they handsome:)

#2:  Basketball Banquets
We had 2 basketball banquets this week!  One for Sarah and Ellie's CYO teams on Monday and one for Mike's college team on Thursday.  
Ellie learned and improved a lot this year!  Her coaches were great and she got to play with one of her closest friends on the team!  Definitely a plus!
Sarah's coach said some really nice things about her!  He saved her award until last..on purpose..and called her the heart and soul of the team.  Sarah was beaming:)

Mike's banquet was bittersweet for him since it is the last time he will see the guys on his team.  He will not try out for the basketball team at Assumption, but he will get involved in the club is still his first love!

#3:  Change  
We are trying to get used to all the changes with Jay's new job.  It's challenging going from a paycheck once a week to a paycheck every other week!  It will take a little bit to get used to everything!  I'm trying to figure out where we can simplify and find more balance.    Which leads to the following....

#4: Fortune Cookie
We had Chinese food with my parents tonight and this was in my fortune cookie:
"You simplify your life in many ways and find great rewards."
Hmm...a whisper from God perhaps?

#5:  Clingy Kids
Kate and Luke have been extra clingy for the past week.  Between teething and a cold, Kate hasn't been herself!  Luke has been extra needy, too!  If only I could clone myself...that would make life sooooo much easier!

#6:  Limping Appliances
Our bottom oven(which is the larger, full size oven) broke right before we left on vacation.  I'm pretty sure it's the heating coil that needs to be replaced...again...since the same thing happened once before.  I still haven't gotten around to calling the repairman...partly because I'm trying to figure out this getting paid every other week thing and partly because I can't use our regular repair people because they don't work on the particular stove we have.(They say it has too many problems.....guess we should have bought the appliance through them!  sigh)  
At least, since it's a double oven, we still have the smaller top oven.  The only problem with that oven, other than I can't roast a chicken in it, is that the cancel button on the control panel doesn't work.  So, whenever I use it, someone has to go downstairs to shut off the circuit breaker in order to shut off the oven!(I call it our red neck oven!)  I asked about having it replaced a while ago...but you have to replace the whole panel, not just the broken cancel button!  So, for an oven I only use a couple times a week, the inconvenience of shutting off the circuit breaker seems better than shelling out over $250!

And our dryer door needs gorilla tape to stay closed again....and the rubber seal around our washer has a large hole in it and will need to be replaced soon.(again!...and that wasn't cheap either!)

#7:  Date Night
OMG...Jay and I actually got out tonight for a little while!  My parents offered to babysit:)
I can't even remember the last time we were alone together!
Since we had already eaten dinner, we headed to Pasta House for a drink and dessert.
(we had a gift card:)
So yummy!  
Jay couldn't decide what to have, so he ordered two.  
(It was my idea...I told him he could bring half home to Mike and Sarah as a surprise!)
(The desserts didn't make it home!  And then he asked me on the way home why I let him eat so much!  
From left to right:  cannoli, chocolate mousse, tiramisu
The chocolate mousse was mine!
I had a rice pudding martini to go with it!  Very unique...and I enjoyed it!

I'm looking forward to another weekend of small projects, purging, and playing with the kids!
I hope your weekend is everything you need it to be!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lending a Hand.....

It's been a little crazy around here....still!(always!)

Here's a little funny incident that happened today.  Jon made a plaster 'hand' in art class and he keeps leaving it around the house trying to tease people.  Sarah decided to put it on her hand and, surprise, got stuck!

Jon trying to pull the hand off!

Still trying...and Luke trying to get in on the action!

Jon giving his hand a high five upon successful removal!(Pete enjoyed the excitement!)

What can I's Normal Chaos!